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Politics & Power

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Is Hillary Clinton Trying to Assure A Shot at the White House in 2012?

With recent defections of super delegates and a growing delegate advantage for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton has been all but mathematically eliminated from being the Democratic nominee in the November election. So why is she still insisting that she can win and taking swipes at the presumptive nominee? Some have posited that she is such a competitor that she cannot admit defeat while others have said that she truly believes that she can come from behind to be a “comeback kid” like her husband was in 1992. A darker possibility has been raised by some that should be of some concern to the Democratic Party.

Some political observers including former top Clinton advisors have suggested that Hillary Clinton is working on a 2012 strategy. As the theory goes, if Hillary can do enough damage to Barack Obama during the primaries and offer only half-hearted support for Obama during the general election campaign, it will allow John McCain to win the White House facing a Congress controlled by Democrats meaning that he will have few major successes if any during his first term in office. In 2012, the resurgent Hillary Clinton runs against the older, more tired and likely unpopular McCain with no opposition from any upstart Illinois senator to hamper her campaign and wins her place in presidential history.

While this theory paints Mrs. Clinton in a fairly unfavorable light, her actions of the past few months lend some credence to the theory. This has been one of the darkest and most mean spirited primary campaigns in the modern era of politics in America. Ads like the 3 AM phone call ads that call into question not the politics of her opponent but his ability to lead at all give the impression that she is willing to go to any lengths to win. These same types of strategies when used against her husband were decried as being the worst kind of dirty politics. So why now are they suddenly acceptable to her? At what point do you have to question her integrity when she allows and even promotes such questioning of the character of someone she has called a friend and colleague on many occasions?

To be fair, the Obama camp has put out some negative ads and some comments have been made by the candidate that could be construed as being personal attacks but the overwhelming majority of negativity in the campaign has come from the Clinton camp. You have to wonder if the methods of the neo-conservative political attack machine have been now embraced by Clinton and her supporters. If so, what does that mean for the future of Democratic presidential politics?

It has always been an unwritten rule of politics that you don’t attack people too harshly if they are in the same political party. That rule has many reasons for it but the main one is that if you hurt a fellow Party member too much, you are damaging the Party overall. When you call into question the character of the candidate, you are also questioning that of all of their supporters who happen to also be your colleagues within the Party. Being known for the company you keep is at the heart of how politics works so if you are unscrupulous then the perception is that the people that support you are as well because they support you in your ambitions. While it has long been acceptable to question the character of the opposing political party, it has never been acceptable to “go after” people from your own political party as aggressively. So why now is the Clinton camp breaking this unwritten rule?

Whether it is blind ambition, obsessive competitiveness or genuine belief in the ability of their candidate to win the race, it seems that a new low has been achieved in politics this political season. Regardless of who ends up being the Democratic nominee in the November election, the Party has been fractured in a way that may not be recoverable. Large percentages of both Clinton and Obama supporters have expressed an unwillingness to support the winner of the race in the general election if their preferred candidate doesn’t win the nomination. If there is not absolute and unwavering support for the Democratic nominee by the loser in the primary it will likely only benefit John McCain.

Troy Wilson-Ripsom - Staff Writer | Give your feedback on this article.

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